Five travel scams travellers should watch out for

| Last Updated: April 20, 2012 at 6:43 PM

Losing money and other valuables can disrupt your travel plans

Travellers seem to be easy target for scammers, conmen and all sorts of criminals. The best planned holidays can be marred if you are looted or conned to lose your valuables on the trip. Notwithstanding the amount of information available on internet and efforts by police and other agencies to educate the traveller, friendly (and often naïve) travellers are often taken for a ride.

The best way to avoid being conned during travel is to remain alert and be aware of the potential ways you can be defrauded by criminals. Read on to learn more…

Confidence Trick

You might have come across warnings at railway stations asking travellers from accepting food from strangers. While travelling on trains, it is very common to become friends with fellow travellers and share food with them. Unknown to the victim, the friendly fellow traveller might have mixed drugs in the food and flees once the victim loses consciousness.

Friendly (and often naïve) travellers are often taken for a ride

Such instances of fraud are called confidence tricks. In confidence tricks, fraudsters attempt to defraud a traveller by gaining his/her confidence.

Good Samaritan Act

This normally happens when unsuspecting victims come out of ATMs or after purchasing valuables. Someone, often a child, throws shit at you and runs away. While you stand thinking of ways to clean the mess, a Samaritan appears and offers to take care of your belongings. When you return after cleaning the mess, neither your bag and valuables nor the Samaritan would be around. In such situations, don’t be in a hurry to clean the mess. Go to your hotel room and then clean.


A Dutch couple visiting Sonepur cattle fair in Bihar a couple of years ago, were charged an astronomical Rs 10,000 for four samosas. However, the couple realized they were being taken for a ride and complained to the police. The Dutch couple was lucky and could recover their money but others may not be as lucky.

Taxis often refuse to run on metres and also overcharge

Taxis and auto-rickshaws often refuse to travel on metres and charge hefty amounts as fares. In other instances, taxi drivers often take you on a drive when the actual distance you need to travel is only five minutes. To avoid such scenarios, care to do your homework. Learn about distances and how much time it would take to travel. Also find out from the hotel staff, if bargaining is acceptable.

No change trick

Taxi drivers often rarefuse to handover change and insist on the exact fare. In your hurry to find the exact change, you tend to forget that the driver hasn’t paid you the initial amount you gave him. Another common scam which taxi drivers in metro cities have mastered over the years is cheating the passenger by claiming that you have paid a lesser denomination note and insists on you paying the exact fare. This can happen in broad daylight too if you are not alert but more likely to happen during nights when the driver takes advantage of poor light.

Passport as security for debt or rental

Keeping passport as security for car rentals could pose a big problem

In popular tourist places like Goa, bikes and cars can be rented. Shops renting vehicles often demand passport as security besides the rent. When travellers return the vehicles, the owner alleges it has been damaged and demands compensation. You are left with no option but to handover the money. Never handover passport as security or guarantee.

Though not scams, travellers often become become victims of criminal acts like pickpocketing and theft.


All crowded places like popular tourist spots, markets, railway stations and suburban trains are favourite haunt of cheats and pick-pockets. Be alert and don’t slacken your vigil. Take care of your valuables. To know how to take care of your valuables, read on…


Airports are notorious for baggage thefts. However, thefts can happen right at the railway station or even from your hotel room. Hotel rooms are among the unsafe places and leaving anything valuable in your room is only an invitation to trouble. Reason: There are too many people with keys to your hotel room. The possibility of theft is common when you are away from your valuables.

Stay organized and don’t relax so much that you lose track of your gadgets like camera, laptop or credit card. Don’t leave your bags on the floor or hanging off the back of your chair in a restaurant. Be extra alert when stepping out of a taxi with all your bags. Your focus may be on paying the taxi driver but a thief could be lurking around.

Be careful while withdrawing money from ATMs

First Published: April 19, 2012 at 7:59 PM

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